What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Catching Flies With Honey or Vinegar?

Today the son of our Vice President Joe Biden passed away from brain cancer. (Click on link for full story).  When I first heard this news this morning my heart jumped into my throat and my eyes filled with tears.  Not because I am a fan of Joe Biden or any of his philosophy of politics, etc., but because he is a father who has just said good-bye to his beloved son here on earth.  Because he is a parent who is grieving and hurting and in need of comfort and strength that only God can give at a time like this.  Because I too am a parent who has been touched by this same grief.  One year ago I also said goodbye to my beloved son here on earth.

On my Facebook page I posted the above news article with the following statement:

"No matter what your political view may be, when someone loses a child, whether it be to cancer or accident or other tragedy, hearts are broken. My prayers go out to the Biden family today as they mourn the loss of their son Beau. This is not an easy "club" to belong to...the club of parents who have lost a child. I never chose to become a member of this club, and I am certain VP Joe Biden would not choose to be here either. I understand from reading this article that this is not the first child he has lost, in addition to his first wife. May God give this family strength and comfort during this time."
One thing I have learned since going through the loss of my son is that when someone loses a loved one, regardless of their political stance, religious affiliation, race, nationality or even sexual orientation...yes, I said that...now hear me out...regardless of any of that stuff, when a human being has lost someone very dear to them, it is not my place to judge them or make comments regarding how I think they should respond or act or change...it is my place to extend the love of Christ toward them...to pray for their comfort...to hold them  up to the Father with love and compassion...to show them the same comfort that He has shown me in my times of tribulation:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
Who comforts us in all our tribulation, 
that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble,
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us,
so our consolation also abounds through Christ."
II Corinthians 1:3-5

I would hate to think that when my son died there were well meaning people making comments that they hoped his death would cause me to change...or that somehow my son's death was because of my political viewpoint or religious beliefs or because of my or any of my family member's sins.  If anyone felt that way I am so thankful that they kept their opinions to themselves.  If anyone feels like they should pray that God will change my heart or my beliefs or political viewpoint now that my son has died, you may go ahead and pray that if you think that is necessary...but please leave the judging to God.  I recently wrote about this in the following link:"Interesting Insight Today".   Jesus said:

"I have come as a light into the world,
that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.
And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, 
I do not judge him; 
for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words,
has that which judges him--

the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day."
John 12:46-48

And also:

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world through Him might be SAVED!"
John 3:17
Again, I say that even though I may not agree with someone's viewpoint or lifestyle, etc., it is not my place to judge them...but to LOVE THEM AS CHRIST LOVED THEM AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR THEM.  Especially when they are hurting and grieving.  Save the preaching for another time. Right now just extend the Love of Christ to them and their family.  Pray for them to be comforted as only Christ can comfort them.  If there is any changing to be done in the heart...God knows how to reach them.

You know the old saying "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar?"  Well, I think if we as Christians would practice this saying more often, we just might win more "flies" to the Lord.  Yes, there is a time and a place for strong preaching and teaching and exhortation.  But the time of grief and loss is not the time.  This is the time for love and compassion and wisdom.

"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us,
an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma."
Ephesians 5:1-2

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Musings Over A Cup of Tea

It seems as though my quiet times are becoming fewer and farther between...especially on the weekends. Please don't think I am complaining...I'm just stating the facts.  Since my almost 92 year old mother in law has been spending the weekends with us, the moments of rest and reflection are fleeting at best.   I love my mother in law and feel privileged to have been a part of her life for the past forty-six years.  She has always been very loving, generous, and kind to me.  We've had our moments as most mother and daughter in law relationships do...but thankfully I can honestly say that we love and respect each other deeply, and that covers a multitude of "sins" of frustration and misunderstandings.

However, there are days when the constant repetition of chatter about things that I've heard so many times before in the very recent past become overwhelming. She doesn't realize that she's told me the same things over and over again, and it is easy for me to lose my patience as I nod and smile and act like it's all new news. I find myself biting my tongue and reminding myself inwardly not to blurt out that I've already heard that story today...and yesterday,..and last week...and the week prior to that, etc., etc., etc....because it would only cause hurt and anger and sorrow.  It's not worth that to stop the litany of well known information.

So, this evening, while she was enjoying watching a baseball game with my hubby, (her son), I stole away into the kitchen to fix myself a cup of herbal tea...actually, I didn't have to sneak...she knows that I enjoy that cup of "Sleepytime" tea each evening while sitting in my chair reading a book while they watch TV.  She actually even encouraged me to go have my cup of "comforting tea", as she calls it.  And so I did.

Since I am currently in between good books to read it seemed like a good chance to make it a little more special than my usual mug of tea...so I sat down in the rocker in the dining room by myself and pulled a little book off the shelf entitled "Everything I Know I Learned Over Tea", by Emilie Barnes.

At first I felt a little guilty about having this little tea party by myself, but then I remembered that she and I had actually enjoyed a cup of tea together this afternoon as we sampled the fresh baked, warm out of the oven banana nut bread that my mother in law had watched me mix up and put into the oven.  We didn't use any fancy tea cups or tea pot, but it really didn't matter.  She enjoyed that mug of hot tea and fresh banana nut bread like it was the best thing she'd ever eaten.  We sat and chatted about this and that...whatever happened to pop into her mind at the moment (again!) and relaxed like two old friends at a tea party.

As I mused over my evening cup of "comforting tea" I did feel comforted that even though there are moments when I wish I could have total peace and quiet for a spell, the time spent together allowing her to talk about her childhood, loved ones who have passed on, and other things that are on her mind is far more valuable than my personal quietude.  There will be plenty of other moments for me to rest and reflect after she has gone on to join her loved ones in heaven...and then I will wish that I could hear her laughter and see her smile as she tells me one more time something I already know.

Here is a little something gleaned from the pages of "Everything I Know I Learned Over Tea" ~

"A Loving Recipe for a Perfect Cup of Tea"
1 willing friend who loves to sit and share
1 grateful heart to have a friend that cares
1 beautiful garden to show us God is near
Many wonderful memories of times shared throughout the years
Lots of smiles and laughter to brighten up our days
Many prayers that we prayed for each other along the way."
Author Unknown 

Is there someone that you ought to invite to have a cup of tea with you?  Emilie Barnes says in her book,

"And when we offer tea to someone, we are also offering ourselves.  We are saying, 'For the next few minutes I will listen to you. I will treat you with respect.  I will be present for you.'" (pg. 17)

Tonight I learned while musing over a cup of tea that being present for my mother in law at this time in her life is just as valuable, no, more valuable than whether or not I get to have my "quiet time".  Hey!  Maybe Emilie Barnes is right!  "Everything I  Know I Learned Over Tea."....Well, almost everything!

Good Night! ~ Rest Peacefully, My friend!

"The path to heaven passes through a teapot."
Ancient Proverb
(per Emilie Barnes' book, page 34) 

I Saw the Light!

I know some of you are probably wondering what this picture is all about.  It is rather unusual, isn't it?  Well, that is the new view from my front porch.  One evening as I was relaxing and rocking in my new rocking chair,

my eyes were suddenly blinded by this bright light shining through the trees.

 I thought to myself, "Hmmm, that's never happened before in this spot. Something is different!"  After a few minutes of exploration in the wooded area directly in front of the porch, I discovered that an old tree had blown down, which knocked over another smaller tree, causing its leafy abundance to be pinned to the ground and creating an empty spot in the foliage where it once stood. Even though we removed the dead tree from the top of the young tree, it was too late to save it.

Quite frankly, I am not too happy about this new vista from my porch, as it truly does leave an opening for the evening sun to shine rather too brightly and directly into my line of sight.  This is somewhat annoying to me...it has disturbed my peaceful, secluded and shady haven where I try to unwind and relax at the end of a stressful day.  I mean, I've worked so hard to create this space so I can sit here and watch the birds, listen to the sounds of nature surrounding me...and now this extremely bright shaft of evening sunlight is piercing through the cool shadows of dusk and infiltrating my serenity with an unsettling aura of blazing glaring light.  

What to do, what to do?  I cannot replace the tree that quickly....and I certainly don't want to hang some kind of shade to obscure the light, as that would block out other lovely trees as well, and I might miss a bird flitting to and fro as it gathers its last seeds of the evening before retiring for the night. 

I know some of you are probably saying, "She thinks she has problems? Hasn't she noticed that the world is in chaos and people are being flooded out of their homes and would love to see the light of day...others are dying, starving, hurting...and she's worried about the sunlight bothering her as she rocks on her porch?"  Yes, I have noticed...part of the reason I love to sit on the porch in the evening is to avoid watching the evening news. But that's another whole subject. (Added note: I not only NOTICE the news of the world and country, but I often use this time on the porch to pray for those affected. I am not ignoring their plight...but prayer is the only real weapon I have that can do anything about it right now.)

There must be some kind of lesson here for me...and as I've been writing this, I've been asking the Lord just what this is all about.  The message I'm hearing in my heart is this:

"I don't want you to get too comfortable or shut away from the rest of the world entirely.  I still have work for you to do.  There are people who need the light that you possess."

II Corinthians 4:6-7 says,

"For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us."

See, I've been wanting more and more to get ready to "retire" and to sit back and enjoy life for awhile.  There is nothing wrong with that...I've certainly earned it.  (even if there is no money to back it up).  But I think what I am hearing is that my so-called retirement, when it ever comes, will not be one of just fun and games and doing what I want to do. I'm not supposed to get too comfortable in my rocking chair on the front porch and watch the world go by.  God has opened a new window of light to get my focused attention on Him and His plan.  I don't know exactly what that plan is today, but I have a feeling that it will be revealed in due time.  Meanwhile, I'll just get some sunglasses to wear while I rock on the porch and follow the rest of the "Porch Rules"...

Please pray or sing the words to this old familiar hymn with me:

"Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave-notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see;
Open my ears, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Open my mouth, and let me bear
Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart, and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.

Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see;
Open my heart, illumine me, 
Spirit divine!

Written by Charles H. Scott, 1923

Yes, Lord, "Silently now I wait for Thee...Ready my God, Thy will to see; Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit Divine!"  AMEN.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Prayer: Something New to Ponder UPDATED

5/7/2015:  * Please see the portions below marked by an *, and then go to the end for the update.

Original Post dated 2/15/15:

"Now a leper came to Him (Jesus), imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, 
'If You are willing, You can make me clean.'

Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him,
'I am willing; be cleansed.'

As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed."
Mark 1:40-42

Wow! Could it really be that simple?  Jesus said...

"And whatever you ask in My Name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask anything in My Name, I will do it."
John 14:13-14

According to today's reading (February 15) in Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, Jesus is saying to us, 

"Come to Me with all your weaknesses; physical, emotional, and spiritual.
Rest in the comfort of My Presence,
remembering that nothing is impossible with Me."
(Reference Luke 1:37 ~ "For with God nothing will be impossible.")

Could that really be true, God? Nothing will be impossible?  Dare we put God to the test?

In Matthew 6 Jesus gives us instruction on how to pray...and in verse 8 He says "...your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

In verses 9-13 we are given word by word instructions, directly from the source, Jesus Christ Himself...the One Who intercedes on our behalf before the Father, so He ought to know the best way to reach God's ear and heart.  Listen (and pray along with me) this beloved and very familiar prayer: (KJV)

"Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those that trespass against us.  *

And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.

In verse 14 Jesus goes on to say, "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."*

It is interesting that Jesus seems to put the emphasis on FORGIVENESS in this prayer...and not just our own personal forgiveness from God...but there seems to be a contingency here...it appears that Jesus is telling us that our trespasses (sins, debts, etc.) will be forgiven by God when "we forgive those that trespass against us."    I discovered another place in the Bible this past week that caught me by surprise...I had never in all my years noticed this passage before...and here it is, in the book of JOB...chapter 42 and verse 10. *

"And the LORD restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends.  Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before."*

Anyone who has ever read or heard the story of Job knows that he was tested severely by the devil...and that Job was an extremely righteous man...He never cursed God or lost faith in Him even though he lost everything and suffered severely.  Job's friends were not exactly comforting or helpful. Instead they were constantly critical of Job AND God, even attempting to turn Job away from God. And even though Job himself did not sin throughout this ordeal, it appears that God was waiting for Job to actually pray for his so-called "friends"...and perhaps even forgive them* for their constant negative jibes and ridicule, before He opened the windows of heaven and restored everything to Job~ even twice as much as he had before.

Very interesting new line of thought here.  Something to ponder when I come before the throne of God asking for healing, deliverance, guidance, or provision.  If I am harboring any form of resentment, anger, or an unforgiving spirit in my heart when I pray, God may not hear me until I forgive others who may have hurt me in some way.*

Perhaps it is time for us to lay down those hurts and resentments and disappointments...and to actually, literally "forgive those who trespass against us." * Yes, this is definitely something to ponder. What about you?  Can I be the only one that needed this message today?

*Okay, now for the update:  I originally wrote this post on 2/15/15.  At that time I had a little sore on my leg that had started out as a little nick made perhaps with a razor, and it got infected, and then became a sore that would not heal. I had cleansed it thoroughly with peroxide, and/or alcohol,  put antibiotic salve on it, scrubbed it, tried other medications, and it just would not go away.  It wasn't terribly sore, but enough to make me notice it and begin to worry.  My husband wanted me to go to the doctor and get it checked, but since I don't have insurance (that's another "sore" subject), I would not go.  But as the weeks and then months went by and this sore remained and would become inflamed and then act like it was healing and then start all over again, I truly was becoming concerned.  You know, they tell you if you have sores that don't heal there could be something more seriously wrong, etc., so I was beginning to fear the worst. 

At the same time, there was a "friend" who was causing some hurt and distress in my life.  Nothing major, but then again, some frustrating and confusing signals.  Resentment and even some anger was beginning to creep in, affecting my attitude toward this individual. This wasn't the first time we'd had "issues", and I wasn't going to let this person get me down again.

Then one evening this person called me, crying and in deep distress, and begging for my forgiveness. At first I was reluctant as I wanted to let this person know just how much her actions had caused hurt and pain for me and others. But as I heard the genuine pain and anguish in her voice, I sensed the Lord telling me it was okay to let it go and to forgive. As I uttered the words of forgiveness verbally, something changed internally...and at that very same instant, the scab literally came off of the sore on my leg.  It opened up the wound and I could see that it was healing. After I concluded my conversation with a prayer for my friend and expressing true compassion that I know came only from God, I went and got a better look at the sore on my leg that was now truly healing...and I remembered these words from this message that I had written just a few months ago...

"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."*

"And the LORD restored Job's losses when he prayed for his friends..."

and here was tangible, living proof of the truth of those passages. Even though I believe the wound is healed, it appears there will remain a little scar to remind me of this lesson lest I forget it in the future.

To close this post, I would ask that you also pray for my friend. She is going through some deep water and needs emotional healing.  And pray for me, that I will keep an open heart and loving spirit. And may we all have eyes of compassion to see that sometimes we have to look beyond our personal hurt to see when someone may have deeper needs than our own...and be willing to forgive and help  a brother or a sister...and perhaps be personally healed in the process. Amen.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Bitter Roots (recycled & updated)

I just realized that today is the first Friday of the month, so therefore it is also "Random Journal Day"...the day we peruse old journals/writings and share with you something from the past.  I honestly don't have time today to go digging in my old journals as I have company...but something has been on my mind this morning..."Forgiveness"....because some bitter roots started to come back up to the surface regarding a relationship that has had difficulties from day one...and even though I have offered forgiveness and have actually tried hard to maintain this friendship, it would seem as though that is a one sided feeling.  So I needed to re-read what I wrote about this and remind myself that forgiveness is a choice that I can choose to continue to live, or I can slip back into an unforgiving spirit and cause myself more sorrow.  I can't control what other people choose to do or how they try to cause division and hurt between my loved ones.  But I can choose to demonstrate Christ's love appropriately regardless of the outcome.  Lord, help me to do what You have taught us to do. Amen.

"Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled...."  Hebrews 12:14-15

bit·ter  (btr)
adj. bit·ter·er, bit·ter·est
1. Having or being a taste that is sharp, acrid, and unpleasant.
2. Causing a sharply unpleasant, painful, or stinging sensation; harsh: enveloped in bitter cold; a bitter wind.
3. Difficult or distasteful to accept, admit, or bear: the bitter truth; bitter sorrow.
4. Proceeding from or exhibiting strong animosity: a bitter struggle; bitter foes.
5. Resulting from or expressive of severe grief, anguish, or disappointment: cried bitter tears.
6. Marked by resentment or cynicism: "He was already a bitter elderly man with a gray face" (John Dos Passos).
1.bitterness - a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will
root 1  (rt, rt)
1. The usually underground portion of a plant that lacks buds, leaves, or nodes and serves as support, draws minerals and water from the surrounding soil, and sometimes stores food.
2. Any of various other underground plant parts, especially an underground stem such as a rhizome, corm, or tuber.
3. The embedded part of an organ or structure such as a hair, tooth, or nerve, that serves as a base or support.

In the physical, earthy sense, if you have ever worked in a garden or a yard, you know about ROOTS.  Those are the essential parts of a plant or a tree that feeds the plant and enables it to grow and flourish.  If the roots do not have any food, (water, nutrients) the plant will die.  It cannot develop and prosper without the roots providing food.
In the spiritual sense, the roots feed the heart and soul and mind of man.  In order for the spiritual man/woman to be healthy, the roots need to feed on good food...solid teaching, God's Word, love, forgiveness, kindness, gentleness...the "Fruit of the Spirit"
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law."  Galatians 5:22-23

However, when the heart and soul of a man/woman feeds on bitter roots, i.e.; anger, fear, anxiety, lies, unforgiveness, false teaching, hatred, jealousy, selfishness, idolatry, dissension, ~  the Spirit of that person cannot survive. 
"....Of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."   (Read Galatians 5:16-21)

When we allow such thoughts and feelings and unforgiveness to control our minds, we die a slow, painful death. That bitter root of resentment and anger takes control, causing not only our own heart, mind and soul to be severely injured and endangered, but according to Hebrews 12:15, any root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by this many become defiled.  We not only hurt ourselves, but all those around us.  Our pain and anger ferments and oozes out of our being with every word we speak and every movement we make. We become prisoners, bound within the vile chains of self-righteousness and hatred toward anyone and everyone who does not show us pity and align themselves with our "cause". 

What is the cure? How can we escape such painful self-destruction?

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, EVEN AS GOD IN CHRIST FORGAVE YOU!" Ephesians 4:30-32
Can it be that simple?  Is it even possible? How can I let go of my feelings of hurt, humiliation, shame, anger, disappointment, self-righteousness, resentment, and allow myself to forgive?

"Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma." Ephesians 5:1-2

Christ forgave me.  Christ forgave you.  Christ died for me.  Christ died for you. Christ suffered agony on the cross for me.  Christ suffered agony on the cross for you.  Christ didn't have to do that, but He did it anyway, willingly, lovingly, deliberately.  Why?  Because He loves me.  Because He loves you. Because He wants to spend eternity with you and me. That's why.  I don't deserve that. You don't deserve that. We deserve to die. But Christ came and saved us so we could have eternal life. 

He forgave me...and all He asks is that I forgive others just as He forgave me and gave His life for me. Is that too difficult for me? Is that too difficult for you? Forgiveness...freedom...eternity...This is something to think about.  This is something to do.  With God's help...it IS possible.
Please click on this link for a song that speaks to what I've been saying here.  Let this message settle into your heart today."Forgiveness" by Matthew West  Let it permeate the hidden places in your heart, soul and mind that are still harboring bitter roots of unforgiveness...and ask God to help you let it go.
Set the prisoner free...and "that prisoner is you"....